Why Shouldn’t You Powder Coat Plastic?

July 24, 2018 6:07 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

We frequently receive questions from our clients about powder coating—specifically, which materials they can and cannot powder coat. One of these questions is, “Can you powder coat plastic?”

Most people are familiar with the powder coating process as used in metal applications. However, not all materials can be powder coated, or at least not with the same ease as you can achieve with metal.

Technically, you are able to powder coat some other types of materials, but there are other times in which it simply will not work. The material must be able to survive the high temperatures of a powder-coating oven. If they can survive, they can be powder coated, but this rules out a variety of materials, including most plastics and many other materials that are not metal.

Here’s some information from our steel fabricators in Umatilla County, OR about why this is the case.

Heat is a big factor

The most important consideration to keep in mind when looking at powder coating objects is whether that object is able to withstand the heat that must be created to complete the job. Most materials cannot survive that extreme heat, so they cannot be powder coated.

Every part that will be powder coated will need to be baked out after being powdered. This process includes a long-term exposure to temperatures greater than 400 degrees. Most plastics, woods, rubbers and other materials will either melt away or burn when exposed to these temperatures, meaning the powder coating process is either extremely difficult or impossible.

That being said, there are some technologies that can be used to powder coat wood or plastic, but these are still extremely experimental, impractical and expensive technologies, and they aren’t broadly available. These technologies tend to rely on very large fluidized piping tanks, which are not commonplace at all in the industry yet, which means there’s really no point in attempting to powder coat.

Other considerations to keep in mind

When you consider the above information, it’s simply better to use metal if you really want a part that’s powder coated. Whenever you send in a part to be powder coated, make sure those parts are made using a metal that is guaranteed to survive the extreme temperatures associated with the process it will be put through.

If the part you’ll be powder coating has any pieces that are plastic or rubber, try to remove those pieces before you ship them off to the company that will be doing the powder coating. Those pieces are not guaranteed to survive the powder coating process, which means the part could be rendered useless if they’re left on. For this reason, it’s a good idea to just remove them if that is at all possible.

For more information about limitations you’ll need to overcome with the powder coating process, we encourage you to contact NW Metal Fabricators Inc. Our steel fabricators in Umatilla County, OR will be happy to answer any questions you have. We look forward to working with you soon.

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